At first, it seemed as if we’d walked onto the set of a science fiction movie. The municipal manager stood at the podium outlining the toll the pandemic had already exacted. The medical officer told us the precautions we needed to take. We thought them common sense but struggled and failed to turn them into habits.
Then the shock wore off. We realized “this is real”. We hunkered down.
Gone, gym visits. Gone, casual socializing.
We doom-scrolled COVID-19 news reports. We disinfected our car door handle and the steering wheel when we return from work or with groceries. Some of us lost our jobs, some their businesses.
We exchanged information concerning which stores felt “safer”. We learned to back away from strangers without masks who stepped too close to us, but found it harder to navigate situations in which dear friends wearing loose masks leaned in close to talk with us.
We gritted our teeth, told our friends and ourselves that we’d survive the COVID tunnel and would come out the other end. Some of us lost their health, others their lives.
We haven’t yet crossed the finished line, but we’re pandemic weary. Powerlessness has set in.
No place feels safe. The woman I joined with on a dog walk around the lake calls; she has COVID and was contagious when we walked together. The guys who sent three days installing flooring in our house called, “bad news, we had COVID.” We face uncertainty over finances, the economy, our jobs and physical health.
Some play denial games and mask hypocrisy spreads. The photo accompanying the Washington Post’s October 27th article that discusses how airlines ban passengers refusing masks show multiple passengers wearing masks well below their noses. We watch customers slip masks off as soon as they enter stores, even during senior hours, not caring they put vulnerable individuals at risk.
We’re emotionally drained but not powerless. The pandemic has taken much from us, but we have more than has been taken. We have control—over ourselves.
Here’s a suggestion. Make one list of all the things you can’t control: COVID; loved ones getting sick; how long it may take before a vaccine occurs.
Make a second list of what you can control: how you spend your time; what you eat; whether you exercise; what you read; whether you mask and physically distance; your contingency plan if you get COVID.
Rip up list one. Avoid the cheap comfort worry brings; it keeps you up at night, saps your energy and robs you of joy.
Focus on list two. Act on what you can control. Embrace physical distancing without making it emotional, human, or spiritual distancing by reaching out by phone, Skype, Zoom, through social media and to your faith community.
Avoid crowds and those who won’t maintain a limited bubble. Wash your hands. Walk or otherwise exercise, it manages stress. If you’ve lost your job, you can control how you conserve your finances; you can control the time you spend searching online for work and sending out resumes.
Actively problem-solve, set goals, and take pleasure in every victory. You finally cleaned your junk drawer? Yahoo! You’re walking two miles a day? You go, girl!
We got this.
© 2020, Lynne Curry
Lynne Curry is the author of “Beating the Workplace Bully” (AMACOM, 2016, https://amzn.to/30V5JO6) and “Solutions”, https://amzn.to/2GYlnAN (both books are rated 4.8 out of 5 stars on Amazon.com). Send your questions to her at firstname.lastname@example.org, visit her @ www.communicationworks.net or follow her on twitter @lynnecurry10.
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